Welcome to plastic free July. What does that mean exactly? If you decide to take part you join other millions of people around the globe who are agreeing to reduce their plastic waste. The movement started was started in 2017 by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz (founder of the Plastic Free Foundation) and a small team in local government in Western Australia. It is now one of the most influential environmental campaigns in the world.
Whether you are a believer in Climate change or not, 18 billion pounds of plastic waste flowing into our oceans every year from coastal regions (published by National Geographic in May 2019) is not good in anyone’s standards. From my own personal experience, on a recent trip to Ireland I witnessed the exuberant level of pollution in their beaches and bays. Something I had never seen before. The locals told us this beautiful part of the world has become an ocean waste deposit.
Looking at our own home front, Australia (according to War on Waste statistics), Australia is one of the most wasteful countries in the developed world. We use over 10 million plastic bags a day. 85% of soft plastic from bags and packaging ends up in landfill.
It’s an interesting time for all of us. The choices we make in our lives, both personally and professionally. Recently Coles launched their latest ‘little shop’ campaign, ie, plastic toys … and have received backslash from the likes of change.org – who have started a petition which says – “Are you gobsmacked that Coles has brought out a new range of ‘little shop’ toys during Plastic-free July?”
This is something I have thought a lot about in our business. The promotional product industry produces a lot of plastic products. It is changing. Can it change faster ? Of course. I think it comes down to education, product availability and business/brand positioning. In the last 10 years, sustainable / eco-friendly products have evolved from novel / niche to being in high demand. This growing movement has been driven by:
Changing consumers attitudes: “25% of consumers are extremely concerned about plastic packaging, 42% think manufacturers should prioritise making packaging recyclable and 21% think the industry should work toward entirely plastic-free packaging” (Kantar).
Educational programs and the rise of influencers: David Attenborough, “The War on Waste”, Leonardo Dicaprico Save the Whales
Educational precincts – UTS is working on eliminating the most common single-use plastic items in their campus.
Businesses – Unilever’s ‘Sustainable Living’ brands accounted for 60% of growth in 2016 and grew 50% faster than the rest of the business. Lego has committed to building its toys entirely from plant-based or recycled materials by 2030. They are investing over $2.18 billion in this project.
Availability of environmentally friendly products.
Through my research over the years of environmentally friendly products, I see the trend of reverting back to ‘the way we were’. We sold ourselves the dream of fast and convenient, only to realise that it’s not good for us or the environment. So slowly, we are changing things and going back to basics. That’s why you will see promotional products that don’t feel necessarily new… but the sourcing, the materials, the logistics … has changed. Here are a few I would like to share with you:
WHEAT STRAW – Is the stalk left over of harvested wheat grains. Previously it was categorised as a waste product – where in some countries they would burn off the starch. The material is now reclaimed to make wheat products.
BAMBOO – The fastest growing plant. It can be easily substitute all known wood applications without having to cut down entire bamboo groves or plantations. It also continuously grows after harvest without having to re-plant it. Bamboo converts about 35% more CO2 into oxygen than a regular tree.
RICE HUSK – A waste product with little value, so recycling will not reduce air pollution and the amount of plastic used! Biodegradable and reusable.
GLASS – A natural choice for a clean, pure taste and offers a safe and eco-friendly alternative.
SILICON – Made from silica found in sand, lasts longer than plastic, both in respect to the environment and product usage. It’s high durability, makes it more ‘ocean friendly’. Silicone can take extreme variations in temperature (cold to hot) without cracking, melting or falling apart.
My not so hidden secret is my absolute love for stationery. I used to dream of owning a filofax when I was young!
I only recently thought about the connection with my business. A lot of the promotional products I work with clients on, are in actual fact, stationery products. My love for stationery, however did start from a very young age. (“Show you the child at 7 and I show you the adult!.”)
If you know me well, you know how much I am in love with my TurnKey Promotion pens. Since the day these pens were delivered they have come into conversation more times than I can count!
I know for sure I am not alone with this borderline obsession. Which got me thinking, where does this world wide fixation on stationery come from. In the times of ‘paperlessness’ (so we thought!), stationery stores are not going away. If anything, in the last 10 years we are seeing more stores pop up.
Thanks to thepaperdashery.com they have shed some light on where the obsession with stationery comes from:
New stationery represents a fresh start
Stationery provides an alternative to digital communication
Stationery puts power and control into your hands – literally
There is a belief that stationery makes us more organised and creative
Stationery provides a channel for us to express our true selves.
Who thought a pen and notepad or diary could deliver so much!
So it appears there are a lot of emotions and feelings, consciously or subsciously flying around in stationery stores. A place of self reflection, clearing the past and ‘potentialising’ the future. Stationery stores are limiting their marketing potential… we are no longer talking about paper and pens, we are talking about people’s lives in big ways! Kikki K (Australia born, starting in Melbourne in 2001 and now has 100 stores) has run with this notion, offering in-store self development workshops. ‘Saved by the ballpoint pen!’
Stationery stores have definitely upped their game, which is most certainly the reason, for those who once watched their love fade away, have since reunited. The choice of stationery products, the colours, the luxuriousness… these are no longer boring places we paced for office supplies. They have become the kind of stores that you think twice about, before entering, because you know for certain, you will spend longer than you initially plan to. An adults toy world!
To be honest I am not sure if this is a gender specific obsession. I know a lot of women who have stationery obsession, but I don’t know of a lot of men. Enlighten me if you have some examples.
For me personally, stationery provides a tactileness, that I increasingly crave – post the computer taking over our lives. Stationery without even realising helps me to connect and focus on what I am doing right now. You definitely don’t want your mind wondering when you write the first word, line, paragraph in your brand new diary!
I found a list (thank you Gena-mour Barrett at BuzzFeed) that has confirmed my stationery obsession is real – “Anyone who’s slightly obsessed with stationery has secretly done:
Organised your pens by colour, type of pen, etc.
Taken the line width of your ruled paper seriously.
Practised your handwriting before making that first sacred mark in a new notebook.
Lied and said you didn’t have a pen because you didn’t want someone to take it.
Been excited by the prospect of starting a new job or term at school because it means having to go stationery shopping.
Refused to use a beautiful notebook for way too long because you still haven’t found a good enough reason to use it.
Convinced yourself that new stationery is the key to organising your life.
Winced when someone asked to borrow a piece of paper because it means ripping a page from your precious notepad.”
Lucky for me I have turned my obsession into a business, and so researching, sourcing, reviewing, testing, selling, stationery products for my day-job is a perfect fit.
These are some of my latest obsessions that you may also find yourself becoming obsessed with:
If you need a sample, don’t hesitate. Nothing would bring me more joy!
Whilst you were summering it up in Australia during January, I was trumping it up in America!
This was travel for both work and play!
The Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) Expo was the main purpose for the trip – the biggest industry expo in America. We are talking 11,000 distributors representing 4,000 companies and 30 countries, attended by over 20,000+ people. The Everest of Expos, both in respect to the variety of products, the exhibition space … and trying to get through it in three days. Then throw in the Las Vegas location – the epicentre of ‘can you make it bigger and better’!
With something as big as this, you have to plan and be selective from the start, or you could find yourself lost in the noise, hype and excitement.
The opportunity to attend this Expo in Vegas was a milestone for not only my business, but also for me personally …. as I extended the time to experience America is a completely different way.
We, my husband and I, experienced Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Francisco and then drove to Las Vegas via California Highway 1 for a stay in San Simeon, home to the amazing Hearst Castle. We miraculously stumbled across over 3,000 elephant seals that come to the coastline every year to give birth and mate….But that is for another time and something I would be happy to share if you are thinking about travelling to America.
So, back to the show.
We had a plan and it worked very well.
The first two to three days were purely education in sales and marketing, specific to the promotional products industry. I attended a lot different educational sessions. I think it was 16 in total. Customer Service online and offline, continues to be top of mind. There was also a lot of education around high performance selling, unifying sales teams and the latest trends and topics related to social media, metrics, branding and positioning. A great opportunity to immerse myself in how the world is seeing business and integrating promotional products to further extend and leverage marketing communication and programs.
For the following three days I walked the Trade Show floor on the lookout for new products or a new and fresh approach to existing lines and found the segments with a lot of momentum are:
1. ENVIRONMENTAL PRODUCTS are big and only getting bigger. Which is great to see. Recycled straws, recycled materials, less materials, reusable straws, bags, containers for food and drinks.
2. BLING AND MORE BLING! What I mean is bling decoration on anything and everything – bags, drink bottles, in cars, books, clothing, phones. I don’t think this is going anywhere soon. The asian influence in our markets continues to grow, and anything bling acts as a means of creating your own signature add on. Click on the image below to view the Sequin Artwork.
3. SOCKS has turned into a means of self expression. We are seeing a lot of branded socks out there. If designed with the customer and positioning in mind – this is very effective.
4. DENIM. The days of denim are definitely not behind us. There is a lot of denim still to be lived. It’s exciting to see the different ways in which this material is being integrated with other materials – and bringing new life to products we haven’t seen before.
5. THE EXPO LIVE ‘GET IN TOUCH’ interactive stage was also a good bit of fun. There is where live product demonstrations and interviews with industry leaders were streamed. A non-guilt rest break!
Also throw in the very talented, knowledgeable and ENGAGING KEYNOTE SPEAKERS:
David Goggins, the closing speaker, was a stand out for me. He spoke on the topic “Stop Talking Yourself Out of Being Great”. An inspiring talk about personal accountability and building momentum. He spoke about in the early challenges in his life, becoming a Navy SEAL in most elite unit in the American military, and the only member of the U.S. Armed Forces to complete SEAL training. He also was in the U.S. Army Ranger School, where he graduated as Enlisted Honor Man, and Air Force tactical air controller training. A few years later he became one of the greatest endurance athletes in the world.
Scott Stratten was also another great speaker . Who was named a top five social media power influencer by Forbes. He has completely changed how corporations do business. During his presentation, he shared his ‘radical’ insights on how to engage better with customers through social and viral marketing and blended real-world strategies with memorable stories to rethink the way we market and sell.
Connie Podesta … well I have not laughed so much at this stand out presentation on sales as I’ve never heard it being presented before. As an award-winning author, Podesta is an expert on the psychology of sales, leadership, change, life balance and getting your act together, which helped to inspire industry professionals to do what it takes to increase sales, attract and retain more customers, build longer-lasting relationships, strengthen leadership skills and become more profitable, happier and successful.
So back to our plan for the show. It worked well. Or we thought it was working well. Until….we heard about the ‘Pop Up Puppy Stand’. (Which was amongst foodie pop-ups chocolate-dipped bacon, meatballs and rolled ice cream and caricature artists and an illusionists). In a flash we made a run to cuddle the most beautiful puppies.
This is genius marketing distraction and also drove traffic to less populated areas of the venue … and the perfect reminder that we are fundamentally, as humans, emotionally driven. Which brings me back to why promotional products continue to work.
Paul Bellantone, CAE, PPAI president and CEO said. “Promotional products are the only medium that allow us to connect with consumers on a tangible level”.
The benefit of tangible connections, is increasing emotion, trust and engagement – which are the foundation for establishing sustainable business and brands.
If you would like more information about the show and the latest promotional products please get in touch – email@example.com
It isn’t a bad problem to have, fending off the sun rather than the rain. But as December comes and falls away and we all stumble forward, probably more than a little tipsily, into the blinding sun of 2019, more than a few of us will be feeling the heat.
It’s easy to spend Christmas week cooped up inside, nursing a nice port and eating yourself into a food coma, but then it’s time to get out and let the fun of the sea and surf wash away the accumulated kgs. Or at least move the eat fest to the beach.
Either way you’re going to need a spot of shade, and with the holiday season being a time of friendship and family, you’re probably going to need a lot of the stuff. Beach umbrellas are a mainstay in the arsenal of any sun lover. The stars of postcards and boardwalks, you can’t have a beach without a beach umbrella. Easily stored, carried and large enough to keep everyone cool and relaxed.
Large but also lightweight, the Bahama Beach Umbrellas eight panel design fits all the necessary specs for safe fun in the sun. Boasting a reflective silver lining with a UPF 50+ protection, short setup time and a nifty carry case, it’s a product that’s going to get around.
With options for screen printing and digital transfer, branding is exceptionally easy. Beaches are wide open, easily accessible spaces that provide a lot of visibility and footfall. With a striking design and logo on the showerproof polyester canopy, it’ll be easy to stand out, come rain or shine.
There is logic in creative thinking and expression. Despite whether the creative or the audience is aware of it. Unconsciously we are drawn to design that follows at least one or more of the key principles of design. On the other hand, we repel, and feel like something isn’t right or is missing if none of the principles are adhered to… which may be what the designer is trying to achieve. Hence the importance of firstly knowing what your desired outcome is of any design piece.
WHAT ARE THE KEY PRINCIPLES OF DESIGN
There are six basic principles, however, some theories state there are up to 20 principles, but from research it is a further dissection/layering of one of the key principles below. The basic principles will suffice in creating ‘good design’. The theory is that at least one of the design principles should be incorporated to achieve good design, however, all the six principles can be incorporated into the one piece.
This helps us to create order and an invisible connection between elements. In today’s world, the number of messages that we engage in / cross our path each day, makes it essential for us to make it easy to understand quickly what it is that we want to the audience to think or do. It is a simple but effective way to creating sharp design. Interestingly, the word alignment, infers a feeling of balance and peace.
Something that is used when you have multiple pages or pieces typically, but we can also see this principle used in one-offs. In this case, it would be for the purpose of making a very strong statement that leaves an imprint. Repetition, generally, is about creating consistency. Consistency makes people feel safe, provide clarity and helps build trust. Unless your brand is very established, playing around with the treatment of your logo for example, will only confuse your audience, whilst forgoing the opportunity of building familiarity with your brand.
Contrast is all about emphasis. You can achieve contrast with type, colour, images, shapes, lines, etc. It’s a great tool to help guide the viewer, also playing a role in the principle of hierarchy (below). Creating strong contrast definitely helps with grabbing attention. So if you have a big message you want to get across, use contrast. You will see this principle adopted in many political movement communications.
Is a means of prioritising the message order, so the design doesn’t create chaos and lose the viewer, as they are not sure what path to follow to take in the information. Our eyes, when looking at something, are looking for order of where to start and where to end. When it comes to a marketing message what is the order from the most important to least important in the eyes of the viewer: is it your logo, the message, your website, the visual, the contact details, etc? It’s crucial that we think from the viewer’s perspective. This has created many interesting conversations between creatives and clients on the percentage of space given to a logo!! Currently the trend of minimisation is impacting how and where and if we position various components… and leaving us to ask the question… do we actually need them at all?
It is what it says. You can achieve this in two ways: symmetrical, when the weight is evenly distributed (ie, two equal halves) and asymmetrical, through using contrast (eg, dark and light). Keep in mind what you are trying to achieve and whether this design principle is applicable.
Colour – Is not a key principle, per se, but we think it’s worth including.
A game changing principle to any design piece. The key is to know how far you can take colour and when to pull it back. In most design courses, colour is the last thing you get to play with so you can focus on learning to leverage the effectiveness of all other principles. A good discipline to establish. Work on the order first and then play with colour. There are millions of colours, each every one tells a story. So think about the story you are creating with the colours you are using. If you are looking for inspiration, look to nature. There is a magic in natural that achieves colour combinations that we might not ordinarily be able to achieve.
WHAT ROLE DOES THIS PLAY WHEN IT COMES TO PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS?
This thinking is still relevant today. Before we step into designing any promotional piece, we must try to understand how it will meet the needs of the user/audience. The more aligned we are with this, the more value the audience will place on the item. So staying close to what’s trending is important to ensuring your brand/business stays relevant. A well thought through promotional product clearly denotes your relevance in the market … an image speaks a thousand words. Doing something for the sake of doing it, without the thinking, will come through and may devalue your brand in its market.
What we are seeing now is how, what were once considered promotional products, have become a merchandise range, for companies like VB and Tiffany’s. It has become a means of leveraging their engagement across new channels and new audiences. In itself, it is/has become a marketing medium that the consumer is paying for. For the reason that the brand value has been well established. VB has engaged fashion designers to create their new range of apparel line – which is a big step forward.
Before you go straight to the ‘promotional product’ consider the following:
Start with your customer
Research what is trending in the industry and consumer market
Be clear about what you are trying to achieve
Consider some concepts
Think about the message and the relevance.
When you go into design, apply two or more of the design principles listed above.
GREAT DESIGN ADDS VALUE
At first you may not being able to assign a monetary value to great design, however if it’s having an impact on perception, then this is the beginning of a new era for your brand, business and you. You, is in reference to how you think and feel about your brand. That it is worthy of the investment, that the customers are also worthy, that the alignment with your desired brand positioning (if your current one doesn’t cut it) is crucial to continuing to build ‘perceived value’. And perceived value, at the end of the day, is a ‘real value’. Sometimes our biggest challenge is knowing our true value!!!
Socks have become kind of a low-key way to inject a splash of colour and personality into business dress. They’re easy to cover up and easy to unveil. Take a seat at a boardroom table, and with a flick of your leg you can unveil a polka-dot print amidst your otherwise standard formal attire. Socks, as mundane as they once seemed, are now something of a statement.
Where there’s a statement to be made there is power. So ask yourself, what do your socks say about you? That’s the ethos behind companies like Swanky Socks, (https://www.swankysocks.com/about-swanky-socks/) who have sought to bring a variety of striking designs to your tootsies. They’ve done so rather successfully, with their brand now featured in over 250 retail stores. The key to their success might be the sliding range of their products, from the loud and colourful to the more subdued and sedate. With each design though, they still retain a consistently eye-catching style, so you can choose the volume of your statement.
There’s an untapped potential in branding socks. Many see it as just one part of a great whole. Nike socks are just there to compliment a set of Nike training trousers and a crew neck. Socks though have the unique ability to infiltrate any and all settings. Sports socks, business socks, lounge socks, it doesn’t matter. There’s always socks.
By producing branded socks you can make introduce your image to a vast array of settings and markets. What’s more, people often forget they’re wearing them. Wearing an emblazoned t-shirt or decorated jacket is something that you’re always aware of. If say you intend to produce some as promotional materials to give away, you’ll potentially see a much higher adoption rate than with a big and bold company t-shirt.
Socks aren’t always in the forefront of the mind but they’re always present. They wear out quickly but they’re quick and easy to produce, and always in demand. Everybody needs socks, and they need them often. Make your brand part of that need.
Halloween’s a weird one, both in concept and history. A holiday that reflects pagan sensibilities, of Welsh and Iris h origin, under the guise of a Christian holiday. Today it doesn’t have much to do with honouring saints or praying for the dead, and has instead taken on a face that more significantly reflects hallmarks of contemporary American culture. Spooks, scares and sweets all wrapped up in enormous orange marketing efforts. When and why then did it make its way down under? It doesn’t seem a very good fit.
There’s something decidedly Autumnal about Halloween. A celebration of harvest time and getting comfy against the coming cold. It’s wrapped up in oranges and auburns, with pumpkin’s flooding the streets (and every product imaginable https://www.eater.com/2017/9/26/16330438/pumpkin-spice-food-pop-tarts-kit-kats-milanos-jello). With it coming at a time when we here in Australia are breaking out the eskies and barbies again, there’s an understandable dissonance.
The Australian kick back against halloween is, however, perhaps more to do with its commercialisation and a particularly American form of commercialism at that. The holiday itself, as aforementioned, has little to actually do with Australian culture and has only taken its first stumbling steps into the Australian national consciousness in the last few years. Its popularity has grown particularly amongst younger generations, due to the influx of American media through the internet and television. Deakin Business School researcher and consumer behaviour expert Dr Paul Harrison (http://this.deakin.edu.au/society/should-we-really-be-celebrating-halloween-in-australia) has charted the close association between American big business and Halloween’s present day incarnation. America is responsible for producing a vast amount of the world’s sweets. Confectionary giants like Mars, Inc. hold a massive place in contemporary culture and have everything to gain from any and all foreign markets embracing a holiday devoted to the celebration of all that is sweet and sugary.
Harrison believes this is where disgruntled Australians should focus their aggravations, on the commercial side of things rather than the holiday itself. Harrison suggests that, as Australia has done with so many other cultural traditions in the past, the country should be open to the holiday. Halloween is not merely a product of America, but something celebrated the world over; by differing people in differing ways.
Business is at the heart of Halloween and is the biggest player in its expanding popularity. Perhaps the key to Australia coming to terms with Halloween is in acceptance and adaptation. It seems unlikely the practice is going away any time soon. It’s time to put that distinctive Aussie spin on an old, and already amorphous tradition. In both business and practice.
Flip flops, thongs, jandals or as they’re known (somewhat bizarrely) in South Africa, slops. The cooler more casual sibling of the sandal, there’s few summer footwear options more versatile or fashionable.
It’s a design that doesn’t really need reinvention. At least in the form factor. They’ve followed a consistent design since their inception in Ancient Japan and Egypt. So even today, in your cheap and cheerful thongs, you can follow Pharoah Chic and Samurai style.
They can be made to last a few weeks or a few years depending on the materials. Though I must admit a friend of mine had a pair that cost $2 that survived a four month trip around Asia with nary a scratch or tear.
We can offer highly customisable flip flops that can be manufactured in no time at all without sacrificing style. With a robust sole that’s designed specifically for high definition, full colour printing, you can keep your range varied.
Flip flops are popular with all ages, from toddlers to teens and far beyond, their versatility makes them an invaluable summer accessory. With a variety of printing options, simple and complex designs alike are readily available. For the discerning patron on race day looking for a simple solid colour pair to change into when the heels get to be too much, right down to the hyperactive ten year old who wants their favourite superhero emblazoned on their summer shoes. There’s something for everyone.
There is a lot of talk about seasonal and event specific marketing tie ins. With Christmas now rapidly approaching, it’s time to hone in on what is undeniably the biggest seasonal market of the year. Looking at how to latch onto this opportunity and make it work for your brands.
Unlike some other seasonal events and holidays (birthdays, easter, halloween), Christmas is unique in that pretty much any and all brands can play at utilising the period in their advertising. Part of that comes from the ubiquity of the holiday, and its ties to gift giving and money spending. From NRMA to Australia Post, brands and services of all shapes and sizes find ways to tap into the festive cheer.
The key at Christmas then, is standing out from the crowd. With so much of Christmas focusing on buying and gift giving, so many advertisements focus on deals and cost cutting. Pounding consumers with images of big yellow labels and low prices and sales. It’s nauseating and only really works for large scale retailers and companies dealing in a wide variety of products. The types of companies that will see a large footfall regardless and are really only trying to syphon consumers away from very similar, competing stores.
When working with a more concise brand, you’ve got to get creative. Being unique is always important in advertising, and particularly around Christmas being memorable can be more important than actually advertising the product in any meaningful way. Looking at NRMA and Australia Post advertisements, the ties between the service on offer and Christmas itself are loose. The main focus is on tying specific festive imagery and aesthetics and playing on the associated emotions, to the brand itself. These advertisements come across more like a Christmas card from the company, rather than a sales pitch. Christmas is about closeness, familiarity and comfort. The most successful brands tap into these emotions by being approachable and marketing with humility. As mentioned in the article a few weeks back, Coke perfected this. Despite having a product that has almost nothing to do with Christmas, their advertising absolutely nailed the sensibilities and cultural hallmarks of the holiday.
Another effective theme of Christmas advertising is one of summary. Christmas marks the end of the year, a holiday that gives you time to look back on the last 12 months. It’s why so many brands focus on a timeless aesthetic, or one that calls back to the most distinctive events of the year, as well as tapping into the current cultural and social climate. At the end of the year people take stock of what’s happened to them, of what’s important and where they’re going. People are more aware than ever to the current state of things and if you can make that work for your brand, you’ll be reaching people on a whole other level.
Recently, Australian advertisers have moved further towards embracing what makes Christmas so different down under. Embracing the distinctly Australian. The humour, the geography, the cultural. The inherent silliness in celebrating a very winter-centric European holiday at the height of summer. So much of Christmas’ cultural short hand is wrapped up in our European roots. It’s time to change that.
Christmas is the time of giving, sharing and coming together. Branding is effective when it strays away from the obviously cynical and commercial, and looks at what makes Christmas…well…Christmas. Find what it means to your audience, to you and your brand and make a holy trinity of the three.
Here in Australia we’ve got a special need for sunglasses. Long summers characterised by surf, beaches and barbies are staples of the Australian way of life. We have some of the highest and most consistent temperatures on earth and we’ve also got a great big hole in the ozone layer above us. Sunglasses have become a very stylish necessity.
Designs and products are very often referred to as ‘classic and timeless’, in the case of sunglasses this is actually closer to the truth than most. The earliest recorded examples of sunglasses date back to the classical period. Everybody’s favourite matricidal pyromaniac, Nero, watched the gladiatorial battles of ancient Rome through a pair of polished lenses. Whilst across in China, judges used smoky quartz glasses to hide their expressions in court. These early adopters were certainly innovators, but this eyewear of old did little to protect against anything other than glare.
Sunglasses have cropped up in the centuries since. Yellow tinted lenses were prescribed in the 18th and 19th centuries to treat syphilis, due to the disease causing light sensitivity. The modern form and usage of sunglasses however, didn’t really hit its stride until movie stars started framing their faces in the early 20th century and they didn’t go truly mainstream until Sam Foster found a market for cheap, mass-produced lenses in the 1920s. Ray-Ban hit the scene in the early 30s, and once a Life magazine piece sang this new fashions praises in 1938, people began scooping them up in droves.
Styles and shapes have drifted in and out of fashion over the course of the 20th century, but a great many of the first forms have stood the test of time. The Wayfarer remains an immensely popular style and is virtually unchanged since its 1956 debut. Ray-ban has remained a front runner in the field, and many of their original designs have endured. The eyewear of JFK and Buddy Holly can be seen today on Beckham and Pitt.
With time has come affordability, and today you can scoop up a pair of sturdy and effective shades for an astoundingly low price. Design patents on these timeless styles have long since expired and the market for competitively priced sunglasses has never been stronger. What’s more, it’s still a great area for experimentation and putting a twist on an old classic, as our partners are doing today. When it comes to sunnies, you can’t really go wrong.